China Box Office: "The Monkey King" Tops Worldwide Chart with Record-Breaking $50M

Donnie Yen in "The Monkey King"

Soi Cheang’s The Monkey King, starring Donnie Yen, Chow Yun Fat, and Aaron Kwok, did even better than initially estimated at the box office.

The latest adaptation of Journey to the West opened last Friday in China with an estimated $17M. Turns out the estimate was $3M short. The actual figure is $20M, which makes it the biggest opening day gross of all time, but with an asterix. Iron Man 3 did $21M last May, but $2M was from midnight screenings.

When the weekend was over, The Monkey King finished with $50M in record time (three days). It’s already a third of the way to its breakeven goal of $150M. At it’s current pace, it could get there by the end of the week (or close to it).

Chow Yun Fat said he and Yen would return for sequels if the film reaches that milestone. They should start clearing their schedules now.

Worldwide, the CGI-heavy film took in $54M, easily topping the worldwide box office for the weekend.

By the end of Monday, The Monkey King’s cumulative stands at a towering $64M. It's already Yen's highest-grossing film, surpassing Bodyguards and Assassins' $48M from 2009. For Chow Yun Fat, it's his second best behind Let the Bullets Fly ($103M).

Last year, Stephen Chow’s comedic adaptation of the same source material Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons, opened on Chinese New Year with a single day gross of $13M and ended its run with $206M, the second highest-grossing Chinese film of all-time (just a few million behind Lost in Thailand).

Because China has been adding thousands of new theaters each year, films have become more and more front-loaded. We’ll see if that’s the case with The Monkey King. If it follows the same trajectory as Stephen Chow’s film, then it’s bound to take the all-time crown from “Lost in Thailand” in a few more weeks.

UPDATE: "The Monkey King" is up to $101M!

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